There is no way on this earth that an online strategy can compete with word of mouth by real human beings. 10,000 “friends” is not the same as having 20-25 Centres of Influence in your pocket.
Your most lucrative networking and marketing activities will be “belly to belly” and there’s no way around that.
By all means use online research on social sites to identify potential business friends or prospects, but take the conversation offline as fast as you possibly can, even if this means it has to be a Skype meeting using web cam, because of the physical distance between you.
If you will only do this, in a strategic, disciplined manner, you will be amazed at the results.
Only if you are already doing this is it then worth while to really get involved in Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or your other favourite social media hangout. And this is how …..
First Up – Don’t Make These Mistakes
The biggest mistake anyone can make on social media is to bring their “work” persona to their interactions. I’m talking about such things as:
- Pontificating from on high as if you were superior to everyone else
- Blowing your own trumpet
- Pitching your stuff
If you’re going to brag about something, unless it’s in a professional discussion group (like Real Estate Rocks on Facebook for example, one of my favourite groups) only brag about personal stuff. Like your football team taking out the local comp, or getting your next Karate belt, or winning a cake making competition, or catching a great fish.
If you brag about your business, or bore people with how “passionate” you are about your business, or even tell people how “lucky” you are to be in your business, all you’ll do is make them want to reach for the vomit bucket (and this includes posting up glowing testimonials which you may have received) . Don’t do it. Sit back and let other people brag about you instead. In fact if you’ve got some really good business buddies, that exactly what you should be doing for each other.
The people who are the very worst about this bragging/spamming business are without doubt the multi-level-marketers. They’re so hyped up over their “opportunity” that they use Facebook and other social media in a way that is guaranteed to make sure people don’t answer their phone calls. You know what I think when I see a network marketer spamming on Facebook? Wow, their business must be nearly dead.
Never stoop to gossip or become involved in tacky stuff. None of these sites are personal sites and EVERYTHING you post can be seen by anyone who is a connection of yours. In fact unless you’ve got your privacy settings on appropriately, everything you post can be seen by anyone who goes looking for you and clicks on your profile.
Tacky stuff includes “washing the family laundry”. For example posting stuff that attacks an ex or attempts to show them in a bad light. It’s just not the place. Likewise if you’ve been hurt in a relationship, it’s not the place to start popping up posts about how awful women are or how awful men are – that’s just plain lame.
Don’t comment, like, or share things that you’d be embarrassed if your top client or your mother saw. Realise that as soon as you attach yourself to anything, by commenting, liking or sharing, everyone can see the whole kaboodle. This is why when my nieces or nephews use some crusty language (as they do) even if I think it was very funny I almost never comment.
Don’t get into politics, especially if you have strong views. I’ve seen people write things like “you voted for this bastard, you wankers”, completely oblivious to the fact that someone they consider a dear friend or family member, or someone whom they might want to do business with, is deeply offended at being abused for making an intelligent and considered choice that they had their own reasons for making.
Do These Things Instead
Check in at scheduled times only during the day, and anytime you want outside of business hours, otherwise you won’t do the things you should be doing during business hours.
Only brag about personal stuff, not business stuff.
Keep the business stuff for your business groups, not for your general contacts.
“Like” and “Share” things that you genuinely like and want to share – be interested in and supportive of your connections, but appropriately, not in a stalker kind of way!
Despite all the “don’ts” I’ve listed above, still be you. If you’re a bit of a rough “Ocker”, then of course you use the same language you always do, and you’ll build networks of people who feel comfortable around you. If you’re a bit of a larrikin your friends are going to appreciate your humour and be quite OK with it. I recall a business friend writing on his wall after his footy team won “Take that bitches” just in order to get under his mates’ skins. So still be you.
Be generally upbeat – people are attracted to genuine positivity. However remember that you’re building genuine friendships with people who do actually care about you and if you’re in trouble don’t be afraid to reach out. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.
When you meet a new connection outside of the social media platform (eg on another platform, at a business meeting, as a client or as a supplier) seek out and connect with them, growing your networks over time.
SUBTLY remind people of what you do for a living. Believe me that’s all you need to do, just like in real life. When people know, like and trust you, AND when they have you in top of mind because you’re interacting with them quite often, AND when they know what you do for a living, you will have more referrals than you know what to do with.
Well that’s about all I can think of for now – if you’ve got some thoughts of your own I’d love to hear them. Comment away!